Issue 44 Features reviews by Kathleen Broderick, Linn Miller, Christine Choo, Bill Thorpe, David Ritter, Eve Vincent, Stephanie Bishop, Alison Miles, Richard Kay, Amanda Day, Bernard Whimpress, Mads Clausen, Marion May Campbell, Sylvia Alston, Catie Gilchrist, Eva Chapman, Lucy Dougan, Stephen Lawrence and Nathanael O'Reilly. Click here for more details.
Popular Music: Practices, Formations and Change - Australian Perspectives The papers collected here in this special edition of Altitude offer a brief snapshot of popular music research broadly connected with Australia. The essays demonstrate the variety of theoretical and methodological approaches used by researchers in the fields of popular music studies and cultural studies to explore themes of popular music practice, formation and change in an Australian context. Click here for more details.
Gambling in Culturally Diverse Communities in Australia
Australia is undoubtedly one of the most diverse countries in the world, linguistically- and culturally-speaking. Native Australians come from more than 250 ancestries and, according to the 2007 “Census of Population and Housing” via the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), speak nearly 400 unique languages at home. It’s no secret that gambling has become a part of popular culture in Australia, to the point where migrants and immigrants now often use gambling as a way to immerse themselves into the Australian lifestyle. That being said, how Australians take part in gambling almost seems to be as diverse as the culture itself. Don't believe us? Check the video below
Gambling in Australia
According to an article published in 2007 by Nick Bryant for BBC News, more than 80% of Australia’s adult population gambles, which was the highest of any other country in the world at the time. Despite cultural differences, Australians enjoy taking part in gambling whether at the race track, through machines at local pubs, in glowing casinos, or online in the comfort of their own homes. What’s even more surprising is that gambling rates only seem to be going up. In fact, Australia has the 53rd largest population in the world, yet it has the most gaming machines of any other country.
A study published in October of 2006 suggested that Australians spend more each week on gambling than they do on alcohol and petrol. As of 2007, on average approximately 12% of state and territory revenue comes from gambling. If you thought Las Vegas in the United States had a lot of poker machines, you’ll want to visit New South Wales. In 2007 there were 99,723 poker machines in the state alone, which is more per capita than anywhere else in the world.
What Cultures Accept Gambling?
Much of how gambling is perceived and enjoyed depends on the specific culture in which it’s being practiced. For example: among Aboriginals in Australia, gambling is seen as a source of fun and enjoyment as well as a potential way to make money. Other cultures that seem to accept gambling as an acceptable practice, hobby, activity, or past time include Chinese, Greek, Korean, Maori, Vietnamese, Pacific/Samoan, Hispanic, and Croatian.
On the other hand, cultures in which gambling isn’t accepted and even seen as sinful include Russian and Tamil. The cultures in which gambling is “somewhat accepted” include Caribbean, Arabic, Latin American, Italian, and Macedonian.
Forms of Gambling
Mahjong is one form of gambling that almost seems to be encouraged among Chinese customs as a cultural activity. However, the Chinese don’t actually see mahjong as gambling even though it involves betting. Similarly, groups like the Indigenous people in Australia or the Greeks tend to view card games as traditional social activities.
With the evolution of technology across the globe, online gambling has also become more commonplace among culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Australia. Sites like NetBet.org make it easier for citizens to gamble and take part in hobbies they enjoy, no matter where they are. According to the official 2010 Productivity report of the Australian Government, by 2010, the amount of money spent on online gambling by Australians surpassed $800 million!
Factors Affecting Gambling Participation in Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Communities
Not too surprisingly, there are many factors that can affect gambling in communities with culturally and linguistically diverse citizens. There’s a shared belief among most cultures that winning is a sign of good luck, but the way luck is perceived varies greatly from culture to culture. In some cultures, like the Chinese, a person with good luck is seen as a person of good character.
The way a person attempts to “influence” their luck can include everything from using a different machine to praying or using specific numbers. Surprisingly, some cultures seem to believe they can actually have a bit of control over the outcome of their gambling depending on their own techniques and its success.
Another factor that could contribute to the popularity of gambling in Australia in general is that gamblers’ winnings in Australia aren’t taxed. Gambling isn’t considered a profession and the government of Australia sees gains from gambling activities as the result of good luck instead of income. Instead, the Australian government taxes gambling operators.
Another factor that may contribute to gambling among culturally- and linguistically-diverse communities is the sense of community experienced at casinos or other gambling venues internationally. For example, casinos often serve as a venue that seems safe and culturally-sensitive for members of culturally- and linguistically-diverse communities. Some casinos may even offer foods, drinks, and games that cater specifically to people coming from different minority cultures, in order to help them feel more welcome.
Participation and Accessibility in Australia
When compared to other countries, especially Muslim and Asian majority countries, Australia has more accessibility to gambling activities. Not surprisingly, the easier gambling is to access, the more people will participate. That being said, it’s all the more reason for culturally-appropriate information to be available for migrants and natives of Australia to ensure they are knowledgeable of gambling risks and rewards.
It’s too late to stop the growing gambling trend in Australia, so perhaps it’s time to accept it and see it for what it can do for the diverse cultures. With so much popularity supporting it, gambling just may be the activity that brings people together, when it seems as if nothing else will.